Arsenal currently only have two dedicated wing-backs in the senior squad: why is this and will we sign more in January?
Over the summer, Arsenal brought in Sead Kolašinac, which at the time left the club pretty stacked on the left-hand side. Nacho Monreal was the regular wing-back towards the end of the season, and Kieran Gibbs provided a third option. The position seemed to be resolved, and the Gunners could move onto other areas of the pitch, such as centre-back and right wing-back.
However, Gibbs left for West Bromwich Albion, and Arsenal made no attempts to sign a new centre-back. As a result, Nacho Monreal ended up being moved into the back-three, and suddenly Kolašinac was the only option on the left.
Meanwhile, Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was filling in on the right-hand side, left for Liverpool, and Hector Bellerín became the only option on the right. Mathieu Debuchy looked to be leaving, and although that didn’t end up happening, he too has been converted to the centre-back position (who hasn’t?).
So as a result of the lack of spending in the centre-back department, and the necessity to shift players back to cover, Arsenal have no back up options if Kolašinac or Bellerín get injured.
Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles have been playing the positions in the Europa League and League Cup, having never played them before in their careers so far.
Ainsley has previously played as a full-back, but never on the left, and Reiss is a forward, or attacking midfielder, not a back of any description.
I think it’s too much of a risk to go through the winter window without buying someone as cover. If Kolašinac broke his leg on February 1st, Maitland-Niles would have to take over in every game in all competitions. Maybe Monreal would move back out wide, but he’s been our most consistent centre-back, so that’s hardly ideal either.
However, the major problem I’m foreseeing is how Arsenal and Arsène Wenger convince anyone to join. Hector Bellerín is 22-years-old, Sead Kolašinac is 24. Both are clearly first choice in Wenger’s mind, not just because they’re the only options right now, but also because he has been extremely complimentary of them on many occasions and picked them even when there were alternative options.
It’s very difficult to convince any player they’ll be getting a chance over those two, especially given the length of their contract.
Anyone older won’t want to join a club as a back-up to a younger player, and youngsters will probably look at other clubs to get chances, for example, Manchester United, who are lacking full-backs and utilising wide players like Antonio Valencia or Ashley Young (both 32). Pick the Red Devils over Arsenal and you know you’ll get a chance before long.
It won’t be easy, but I still think the Gunners need to try in January, or things could go badly wrong.
If that means spending big on someone who could rival Sead or Hector for first choice then so be it.